ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Several towns in St. Charles County will have pay up to help upgrade the county’s 911 system.
County officials told News 4 the current system is too old and has not kept up with technology. Voters last approved a tax to help fund the system in 1984, but the county said current funding will not be sufficient for an upgrade.
Each year, St. Charles County handles more than 147,000 emergency calls, but the system used is 10 years old.
“It was state of the art when it was built but like and technology you buy, you buy it today and it’s outdated tomorrow. For a 911 system it’s pretty old. It’s time for an upgrade,’ said Jeff Smith with St. Charles County Dispatch and Alarm.
More than 70 percent of 911 calls come from cell phones. A land line shows dispatchers exactly where a call is coming from, but a cell phone does not.
“If you call 911 from you cell phone, we’re given the address of the tower and we have to work with you to figure out where you are, which becomes an issue with motor vehicle accidents,” Smith said.
The new system will include mapping which shows first responders an exact location. Several municipalities will have to share the cost, including St. Charles, St. Peters, O’Fallon, Wentzville, and Lake St. Louis.
“They’ve never had to pay for the 911 system in the past,” said Jennifer George, St. Charles Assistant Director of Administration. “The 911 fund has been paid for through loans from the capital improvement tax. The 911 fund can’t support those new systems, both outright purchases and ongoing operations.”
The county is still determining how the costs will be divided up among the cities and towns that will be part of the system. The system will also allow for people to text to 911. Officials believe it will be up and running by mid-2015.